PZ Myers visited Ark Encounter over the weekend and gave an honest, insightful analysis of his experience.
Some of it, we’ve heard before. The parking lot is much larger than it needs to be (even when attendance is decent). The exhibits lack real imagination (which is bad since imagination is the driving force of the entire place). There’s a lot of telling and not a lot of showing (which is precisely what you shouldn’t be doing in a museum, much less one that costs $100 million). And that’s before we get into any of the false science.
After visiting the Creation “Museum”, I thought it was a reasonable, responsible action for scientists to visit it to see what they’re up against. I can’t make the same recommendation for the Ark Park. There’s nothing of interest or value there, and it’s so poorly designed that no objective perspective could find it even entertaining.
I haven’t visited the Ark myself, but that sounds similar to the reviews I’ve heard from friends who have been there. Yes, these are atheists who have a vested interest in promoting science over superstition, but they also know what good museums look like, and this ain’t it.
Ken Ham, however, was so deeply offended by Myers’ review that he devoted the first several minutes of his Answers in Genesis news program to dissecting it. He even has printouts of every tweet Myers made during his visit (but insists that he hasn’t read all of them… even though he very clearly has).
Right off the bat, Ham says Myers “hates Christians” and “hates God.” He doesn’t. He merely thinks Christians are wrong and God doesn’t exist. There’s a difference.
Ham also did some math. Based on the timing of Myers’ tweets, he calculated that he spent approximately one hour and 15 minutes in the Ark. But when Ham gives tours of the place, he said, it takes at least two hours! Which means Myers wasn’t really paying attention to all the details! He must have been racing through there!
That’s not true either. At some point, you don’t need to see every Bible verse and every animatronic animal. It’s very easy to get the gist of what you’re looking at because it’s not all that complicated. It’s not like a science museum (or even an art museum) where you want to spend time looking at each exhibit because it’s so different and there’s so much information to take in and understand. At Ark Encounter, the most you’ll do is look at the exhibits and think, “Well, they spent a lot of money on that,” before moving on to the next pile of cash dressed up as a dinosaur. If you’re no longer a child, the animal noises really don’t do much for you. Neither would an exhibit on how all the cartoon-y depictions of Noah’s Ark are all fake because they’re not drawn to scale.
I laughed at this line from Dr. Georgia Purdom:
He said there was 34,000 “kinds,” that we say that. We don’t say that! We say there was 7,000 animals total and about 1,400 kinds!… So he doesn’t even read! He doesn’t even report correctly.
That’s an incredible self-own. Even if Myers got the number wrong, Answers in Genesis is basically saying there were even fewer species thousands of years ago than any expert would ever tell you. It’s like someone saying, “Creationists think the universe is only 50,000 years old!” only to hear them respond with, “Excuse me?! It’s only 6,000 years old!” They’re not making themselves look any better.
And then Ken Ham argues that Myers should blame evolution for people dying. Just because.
Myers bluntly adds in a follow-up post:
One other thing I’ve now discovered is that there is actually a news panel show that is more stupid than Fox and Friends.
The funny thing about the video is that if Ham’s “research” team spent as much time studying science as they did dissecting every word their critics write, they might actually be able to build a halfway-decent museum. Instead, they’re stuck with a giant monument to miseducation and they can’t help but defend it at all costs.
Here’s something you’ll never hear Ham say of his critics: “They have a point.” It’s not in his nature. He’s too busy pretending to be persecuted that he’s unable to take advice from people who understand science and have been to many museums.
He also doesn’t understand the power of teaching children to think critically so that they leave his attraction with a sense of curiosity. The entire goal of Ark Encounter is to give children answers and stop them from asking questions. It’s bad enough that they’re offering false answers, but even a legitimate museum that did the same thing would be failing in its mission.
Ham wants children to leave Ark Encounter thinking the story of Noah makes perfect sense. A more intelligent designer would treat the Ark as a starting point for their curiosity so that those kids walk out with even more questions than they entered with — and a strong desire to read books and study even more so they can get to the bottom of those questions.
Ham has never understood that. And the amount of money he’s invested in his pet projects will prevent him from ever understanding it. Hell, the name of his entire organization suggests that kids shouldn’t ask questions about our origins because a few pages from the Bible tell them everything they need to know. Too bad for the kids duped into thinking they’re getting an education at his attractions.